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Astrocade Video Reviews

Bally Arcade Astrocade Bally Professional Arcade Bally BASIC AstroBASIC Games Reviews Overviews

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#1 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:50 PM

I've created this thread to contain all of my future Astrocade video overviews and reviews.  Let's get started!

Today, I made an overview video of Bally Artillery, a game for the Astrocade.

I was browsing random issues of Creative Computing on archive.org on June 7, 2018 when I came across a game that I had never heard of before: Bally Artillery by John W. Rhodes.  This game isn't to be confused with Artillery Duel by John Perkins.  Both have the same idea, but they are completely different programs.

Even though this game was published in August 1982, the author seems to imply in his write-up that it was written in late 1978 or early 1979, shortly after he got his Bally Arcade.  You can view the Bally Artillery article with the type-in program, here:

http://www.ballyalle...leryBASICTypeIn

Here are the authors notes from the Bally Artillery article:

"In December of 1978 I was ready to buy my first computer system, but my requirements were not easy to meet. I wanted something that could handle arcade-quality games, had high- resolution graphics capability, color display, and Basic in PROM.

"I was not satisfied with anything my local dealers had to show (no one I visited had a Compucolor. the Apple dealers were showing low-resolution only, and the Atari was only a rumor), but on the basis of the (somewhat premature) advertising for the keyboard/expansion unit. I decided to buy a Bally Professional Arcade. I could use Tiny Basic for a while, and turn it into a "real" machine in just a few short months.

"It was just a few short months later that the local dealers began to show Compucolors and high-resolution Apples, and it seemed that the Bally expansion unit was more of a rumor than the Atari 800. I would visit the showrooms, see those beautiful full-size keyboards, watch people work in "real" Basic and be as green as the color monitors.

"I particularly liked the artillery game that Compucolor called 'Shoot...' This game generates a random terrain display and wind factor and positions two artillery emplacements on the screen so that two opponents can take turns trying to obliterate each other. Eventually I resolved that I either had to buy a Compucolor or program this game on my Bally. I chose the latter.

"This turned out to be quite a challenge with less than 2K of memory and integer-only Tiny Basic. But the Bally Basic is quite sound for game programming and easy to work with. The greatest difficulty was finding an integer sine routine, but after searching the magazines I found a routine to adapt to my purpose. I started out using a full ballistic equation, but soon found by experimentation that I could use an approximation. This eliminated an integer square-root routine and added speed in the bargain.

"I spent approximately two months writing, debugging, and fine-tuning the program, but it was worth the effort.

"A few months later I did buy the Compucolor and have been using it ever since. I'm well satisfied with it and use it for a variety of tasks. But my wife and I still enjoy the Bally for its games, especially the artillery game."

 

The article also includes notes and an explanation of how the program works.

I'm not sure how I overlooked it before now.  Bally Artillery appeared in a major publication.  How has it remained under the radar all of this time?

Thanks to Lance Squire for typing in Bally Artillery last week.  Since he put in the effort, I was able to give the game a try today.  I made a video of the game that includes gameplay footage, an overview, and a BASIC listing.

You can watch my video on YouTube, here:



You can download the original 595MB MP4 video from archive.org:

https://archive.org/...desforAstrocade

When Lance get the kinks worked out in Artillery Duel and it's error-free, then I'll added this "AstroBASIC" game to BallyAlley.com.

Enjoy!

Adam



#2 eebuckeye OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:09 PM

Looking forward to more of them!

#3 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:03 PM

I have been working on an overview of the Machine Language Manager cartridge for about a week.  It was growing far too large for one video, so I decided to break it down into four videos.  I've finished editing the first video today; it's about 45 minutes long.  I'll work on the next few videos over the next week or two.

Here is the link to the MLM overview on YouTube:

 

 

You can download the 3.4GB video (or stream it) from Archive.org, here:

 

https://archive.org/...ewandBackground

 

Machine Language Manager (MLM) is a 2KB cartridge written by Andy Guevara in 1981 for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.  It was released by The Bit Fiddlers in late 1981/early 1982.

This video overview summarizes the Machine Language Manager cartridge.  This program is a machine language monitor which allows direct access to programming the Z80 CPU.  This cartridge does not require extra memory to use it, but it can take advantage of extra RAM if it is available.

"The Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ" says this about the MLM:

"This cartridge, which included [a 24-key keypad] overlay, provides an "easy" way to program the Astrocade in machine language. Though not a Z-80 assembler, MLM does simplify the entry of hex code (which otherwise must be entered using decimal via BASIC. Also, the keypad layout does not require the use of the key-shifts, so typing is faster). Programs can be saved via the Bally BASIC 300-baud interface (later, subroutines were written that allowed the 2000 baud version of Bally BASIC (#6004) to be swapped out for tape saving). "Machine Language Manager" does NOT have a built-in cassette interface."

This overview is part one of a four part series.  The series includes:

1) Machine Language Manager, Part 1: Overview and Background
2) Machine Language Manager, Part 2: How to Use the MLM
3) Machine Language Manager, Part 3: Using MLM Example Programs
4) Machine Language Manager, Part 4: Using MLM with the Astrocade MAME Emulation

This video is split into several parts:

0:00 - MLM Titles
0:30 - Short Introduction to the MLM
3:11 - Overview with Cart, Overlay and Interface
3:32 - Close-Up of MLM and Overlay
4:38 - Closer Close-Up of MLM and Overlay
5:52 - Extreme Close-Up of MLM and Overlay
6:57 - Introduction and History of the MLM
23:25 - MLM Cart, Documentation and Overlay
24:39 - MLM Manual
26:26 - Saving/Loading at 2000-Baud
28:05 - Goldfish Demo Source Code
29:33 - Bound Astrocade Machine Language Book
33:04 - Overview of Three Z80 Programming Books
34:09 - Overview of Programming the Z80, by Rodnay Zaks
36:20 - Overview of Z80 Software Gourmet Guide and Cookbook, by Nat Wadsworth
37:46 - Overview of Software and Hardware for the Bally Arcade - A Technical Description (aka, the "Nutting Manual")
40:25 - Z80 CPU Microprocessor Instant Reference Card
41:33 - Creating a 24-Key Keypad Overlay for the MLM

45:30 - End Credits
 
This video is aimed at someone who has little or no understanding of Z80 machine language.  A Z80 machine language programming novice, or anyone who has a passing interest in using the Machine Language Manager cartridge, will get more out of it if all of the four videos in this series are watched one after the other.  Also, even if you have no plans to ever use the Machine Language Manager cartridge, anyone who wanted to know how to program the Astrocade will find plenty of general information provided in this video.
 
Enjoy the video!
 
Adam


#4 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:13 AM

Machine Language Manager by Bit Fiddlers, Part 2: How to Use the MLM

On July 20, 2018, I posted the overview of the Machine Language Manager cartridge.  I finished editing the second part of the series on Saturday and I post it to YouTube and Archive.org yesterday.  The video is about an hour and a half long (1:37).  If you watch it, then you're sure to learn something, so be careful!

Part 3 of this video will show the examples included in the MLM manual.  I hope to have that video edited and posted in a week or so.  Did anyone here watch the first video (the overview of the MLM)?

Here is the link to the MLM overview on YouTube:


   
You can download the 4.6GB MP4 video (or stream it) from Archive.org, here:

https://archive.org/...2HowtoUsetheMLM

Here is some information about the cartridge and the video:

Machine Language Manager (MLM) is a 2KB cartridge written by Andy Guevara in 1981 for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.  It was released by The Bit Fiddlers in late 1981/early 1982.

This video explains how to use the Machine Language Manager cartridge, a machine language monitor that allows direct access to programming the Z80 CPU.  This cartridge does not require extra memory to use it, but it can take advantage of extra RAM if it is available.

This overview is part two of a four part series.  The series includes:

1) Machine Language Manager, Part 1: Overview and Background
2) Machine Language Manager, Part 2: How to Use the MLM
3) Machine Language Manager, Part 3: Using MLM Example Programs
4) Machine Language Manager, Part 4: Using MLM with the Astrocade MAME Emulation

This video is split into several parts:

0:0:00 - "How to Use the MLM" Titles
0:0:15 - Short Introduction to the MLM Video Series
0:0:44 - Overview of the MLM Manual
0:13:00 - Using the MLM: Section 1

- What is the MLM
- The Start-Up Screen
- Usable RAM vs. Lines Per Screen
- MLM Keypad Overlay
- MLM Commands: ADDR., WRITE, READ and LIST

0:23:27 - Using the MLM: Section 2

- Examining ASCII Text in ROM
- Changing MLM Defaults
- Debugging a "Program"
- MLM Command: REG.

0:43:03 - Using the MLM: Section 3

- Using the MLM Assembly Listing
- Using a SYSTEM Routine
- Using RECTAN
- Typing in Example 5-1
- A Splash of Green

0:49:31 - Using the MLM: Section 4

- The User Program Interface (UPI)
- FILL (Subroutine $1A)

1:00:00 - Using the MLM: Section 5

The User Program Interface (UPI)

- MOVE (Subroutine $5E)
- (aka Copy)

1:07:12 - Using the MLM: Section 6

- An MLM Single Byte CALL
- STRING (Print String)

1:24:20 - Using the MLM: Section 7

- Saving an ML Program with the 300-Baud Tape Interface
- No Tapes; Using WAV Files
- Saving/Loading a Program
- Checking a Program
- Running a Program

1:35:39 - MLM: Wrap-Up and Preview of Parts 3 and 4
1:36:48 - End Credits

This video is aimed at someone who has little or no understanding of Z80 machine language.  A Z80 machine language programming novice, or anyone who has a passing interest in using the Machine Language Manager cartridge, will get more out of it if all of the four videos in this series are watched one after the other.  Also, even if you have no plans to ever use the Machine Language Manager cartridge, anyone who wanted to know how to program the Astrocade will find plenty of general information provided in this video.

Enjoy!

Adam



#5 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2018 6:02 PM

This 44:04 minute video shows five example programs for use with the Machine Language Manager cartridge.  This is video 3 of 4 of the MLM series.

 

You can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

 

You can download the 1.06GB mp4 file from archive.org:

 

https://archive.org/...ExamplePrograms

The five machine language programs are:

1) Critter, by Brett Bilbrey - Display and move a Space Invader-like creature.  Knob #1 controls its speed.

2) Standard Color Generator, by Andy Guevara - Generates eight standard color used in TV work.

3) 256 Color Program, by Jerry Burianyk - Displays 256 colors on-screen at one time.  Knob #1 controls how many colors are displayed onscreen at once.

4) ASCII Character Set, by Andy Guevara - Prints the entire MM 3x5-pixel character set.

5) Goldfish Demo, by Andy Guevara - Displays seven fish in an aquarium with a cat in the background.  A clock displays the time in H:M:S format.  The cat meows once a minute.

The first four programs were included as machine language listing with comments in the MLM user manual.  The last program, Goldfish Demo, was available on tape and as a separate Z80 ML listing.  There is background and source material about each program.  The programs are loaded using the 300-baud tape interface.

The five machine language program examples included in this video make up part three of a four part series.  The series includes:

1) Machine Language Manager, Part 1: Overview and Background
2) Machine Language Manager, Part 2: How to Use the MLM
3) Machine Language Manager, Part 3: Using MLM Example Programs
4) Machine Language Manager, Part 4: Using MLM with the Astrocade MAME Emulation

This video is split into several parts:

 0:00 - "Using MLM Example Programs" Titles
 0:02 - Overview of Video
 1:43 - Program 1: Critter
 7:23 - Program 2: Standard Color Generator
10:49 - Program 3: 256 Color Program
18:07 - Program 4: ASCII Character Set
23:25 - Program 5: Goldfish Demo
41:08 - MLM: Wrap-Up and Preview of Part 4
43:48 - End Credits

This video series is aimed at someone who has little or no understanding of Z80 machine language.  This video, in particular, can be enjoyed by anyone, whether or not they have any interest in machine language at all.  A Z80 machine language programming novice, or anyone who has a passing interest in using the Machine Language Manager cartridge, will get more out of it if all of the four videos in this series are watched one after the other.



#6 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 7, 2018 3:09 PM

I have finished part four of the four-part series on using the Machine Language Manager.  In this last video, I explain how to use the MLM with the Astrocade emulator in MAME.  Even if you have no interest in the MLM, then you may want to watch this video, as you'll learn how to install MAME along with the Astrocade ROMs.  This video is about thirty minutes long.

You can download this video from YouTube here:

 

 

You can stream the video from the Internet Archive (or you can choose to download the 1.03GB video) here:

https://archive.org/...deMAMEEmulation

The following is a complete description of this MLM video.

Machine Language Manager (MLM) is a 2KB cartridge written by Andy Guevara in 1981 for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.  It was released by The Bit Fiddlers in late 1981/early 1982.

In this this 30 minute video, I show you how to use the MLM cartridge with the Astrocade emulator included with MAME.  I guide you through the general steps of getting and installing MAME for use with the Astrocade.  Since the MLM makes heavy use of the 24-key keypad, I show you how to create your own 24-key keypad using a standard full-stroke keyboard by applying stickers to the keys.  Finally, I wrap up this video with an over of the four-part series.

The four machine language program examples included in this video make up part four of a four part series.  The series includes:

1) Machine Language Manager, Part 1: Overview and Background
2) Machine Language Manager, Part 2: How to Use the MLM
3) Machine Language Manager, Part 3: Using MLM Example Programs
4) Machine Language Manager, Part 4: Using MLM with the Astrocade MAME Emulation

This video is split into several parts:

0:00 - Overview of using MLM with the Astrocade MAME Emulation
3:11 - Segment 1: Overview and General Setup of Astrocade Emulation with MAME
15:47 - Segment 2: MLM Example in MAME - Listing the first 96 Bytes of the MLM Cartridge
16:07 - Segment 3: MLM Example in MAME - Typing in and Using the ASCII Character Set Program
17:40 - Segment 4: Creating a "24-Key" Keypad for use with MAME and a Full-Size Keyboard
26:56 - Segment 5: Wrap-Up and What Now?
29:49 - End Credits

This video series is aimed at someone who would like to use the Machine Language Manager for the Astrocade under emulation with MAME.

 

I hope that you've enjoyed watching this series of four videos on how to use the MLM.  I'll next be uploading Astrocade video art videos.

Adam



#7 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:06 PM

I have created a video overview of Treasures of Cathy.  After the overview, there is a listing of the BASIC program.  This video was created because I'm trying to figure-out how to list the entire BASIC program.

I have tried to clean up the sound in the Astrocade audio output (which was very "hissy").  It's better now, but still not as nice as I'd like it.  Of course, separate audio/video (I use RF for my recordings) would make this better from the start.  My commentary was done live as I played the game, and it was full of pops and crackles.  This can be reduced to some extent as I use this new setup that I have created.  I have clean-up my commentary's audio too.  Thanks to Chris++ for giving me tips on making that sound a bit better.  The Astrocade's sound effects are set to 50% maximum and my commentary is set at 75% of maximum.  How does it sound to you?

Here is a link to the YouTube video:



Here is a link to the 720p (1.7GB) version on Archive.org:

https://archive.org/...thyforAstrocade

So... how can I see the whole BASIC program?

Here is more general information about the game:

This is a general overview of the game Treasures of Cathy by John Collins.  It was released in 1982 for "AstroBASIC."  During the twenty minutes of, gameplay various areas of the game are explored while collecting items and treasures.

This adventure-style game has 49 locations with 18 treasures. You can only carry six treasures/items at a time. Each treasure gives additional points. Each move subtracts one point. Try for a score greater than 1,000 points. There are four keywords: IN, UP, DROP and GET.

This video is split into several parts:

0:00 - Introductory Titles
0:05 - Loading and Playing Treasures of Cathy
22:37 - BASIC Program Listing
23:39 - End Credits

If you get the chance, then try this game out sometime soon.  If you're a fan of text adventures, then you might be surprised by how absorbing this game is when you start mapping it out.

Have fun!

Adam



#8 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:39 PM

Thanks to Paul Thacker's suggestion, I played Planet Mongo! with my friend Chris last week.  We made a quick and dirty gameplay review of it.  I added more material to it today.

Planet Mongo! is an "AstroBASIC" game written by Fred Rodney.  It was submitted to the Bally Arcade/Astrocade Arcadian newsletter in 1984.  Unlike other programs by Rodney, this game was never published.  This Planet Mongo! review is by BallyAlley and Chris++.

Planet Mongo has a nuclear waste disposal problem.  You must protect your planet from an orbiting satellite.  Orbit movement is random but curves are smooth and movement can be predicted.  During normal play, the planet has an energy ring that must not be touched.  Play begins with the crosshairs in the center of Planet Mongo.  You must move the crosshairs out of the planet.  If your crosshairs cover the satellite while you are within the planet's ring, the planet will explode and the game will end.

You can watch the review on YouTube, here:



You can also watch or download the video from archive.org, here:

https://archive.org/...ngoforAstrocade

This video is split into several parts:

0:00 - Titles
0:05 - Overview and Background
10:35 - Planet Mongo! Gameplay and Review
24:18 - Planet Mongo! "AstroBASIC" Program Listing
25:29 - End Credits

"Planet Mongo!" is an excellent example of a worthwhile BASIC game that did not get published.  Now, if you find it interesting, then you can try the archived version of this game that is available on BallyAlley.com.

Enjoy the video!

Adam



#9 BassGuitari ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:49 PM

A text adventure in AstroBASIC? What?! :-D







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